NSLU2 and Openslug on Mac OS X

Ok, I’m NOT an embedded hacker (unless I have to be) but I do like fiddling with the linksys hardware both the wireless routers and the relatively new NSLU2 attached storage device. But the firmware is old and kind of crotchety, and of course those passionate folks of all things GPL and other goodness have been at it hacking the firmware of this toy. Mac OS X is not the platform of choice to partake of this goodness, but with Fink, you can still get there at some levels.

The trick is, get the latest Fink and grab the latest OpenSlug or other Unslung firmware for the NSLU2 if you’re so inclined. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this is NOT for the faint of heart, so read here and get acquainted or scared off as appropriate. With fink, get the *unstable* package for the libpcap (0.9.4 as of this writing) and then you’re set for some fun.

Now it’s time to do that wondrous compile thing. Problem is the configuration is all set up for the DarwinPorts which I’ve never felt is quite the level that Fink is at. So rather than pull all of DarwinPorts in, it’s actually a short trip to compile the upslug2 firmware updater software on your Fink-enabled Mac OS X system.

Grab the tar.gz for all platforms, unzip and untar it and then get into the directory. Using a mod of the “readme.macosx” your command line becomes:

CPPFLAGS=-I/sw/include LDFLAGS=-L/sw/lib ./configure –with-libpcap

That will get you the upslug2 executable, ready to rock and overwrite your firmware of the NSLU2 with all sorts of open source hackery. I find the fun the packages and customization more than the compile and tweak of the firmware itself. If you find yourself in a similar camp, these tips may be of some help to you.

Enjoy, and props to the Unslung and other NSLU hackers out there for getting these tools rocking and some seriously capable firmware going!

Currently playing in iTunes: The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood

What exactly DOES “Left-wing” stand FOR?

How tiresome. Followers of this blog know that I’m somewhat conservative in many social viewpoints, but also a believer in Canada’s social pact, health care system and much of our public policy. It’s also no secret that I support the Green Party openly, and am an energy efficiency enthusiast, but by no means an activist or radical. “Green Conservativism” might be applicable, but that label is kind of slippery, as I believe it is with any thinking voter in Canada.

Jack Layton has been in the press running down Harper on a number of notes while he rallies his radical-left caucus and faithful. He runs down taking action in Afghanistan. Why would he do that? Does he feel the Taliban should have been left openly repressing people and funding international terrorist organizations? It’s not like there’s a debate that there are other places also deserving of intervention, he’s not arguing that point. Claiming to stand for the poor, and for women’s rights, and for the rights of equality in so many dimensions, but only in Canada will he defend our belief in the charter or even the UN conventions? For that matter, he apparently believes that the Taliban is some legitimate, caring, rational government as he feels we should negotiate a peace with these radicals.

Let me be clear. I fear for our soldiers, and for the aid workers over there, and for the civilians caught in the middle. I wish they didn’t have to be there, but the UN was in favour of this action, and I believe this war has unfortunately some basis for legitimacy. I support our action, and I support our troops most of all, as they have a tough job in trying to stabilize and help that country that the US used as a stepping-off point to an invasion that has proven to have no legal basis whatsoever. [Update] I’d also like to state that those of us that believe in our Armed Forces as I do, be proud of our men and women serving our country, as they are doing so in the best military tradition. I also admire the fact that CBC gives a balanced viewpoint on this. It’s not all roses, but I would note that the “encirclement” tactic has a gap in it until it’s closed. (If the Taliban forces don’t get out, or if they aren’t trying to, which seems the case, they are making a grave tactical error in all likelihood.)

Layton and the NDP continues to be a party of idealists with no plan, no set attainable agenda, and no concept of the real world whatsoever. We’d all like better care for the elderly, lower cost for schooling, better medical care for everyone, but there is this small matter of money, and the NDP has shown eternally that they don’t care about balancing a budget. They would catapult us back to the deficits of Mulroney, Trudeau and countless other short-sighted fools we’ve had at the helm. Martin had a corrupt party, but either by luck, planning or some combination, we at least started to run a surplus, and pay down the debt we stand ready to hand to our children. Layton wants to live as best as he can today, and foist the load of that cost onto our kids. I’m willing to endure some hardship and pain to reduce that debt so our kids have more choices tomorrow.

The labour union in BC has also showed an appalling lack of intelligence recently as the view of Canadian Citenzenship applied to the migrant seasonal workers in the British Columbia agriculture industry. I’m sorry, but as I support our troops, I also believe that being Canadian means a great deal more than holding a job and living the good life. It has a commitment to ideas of fairness, of hard work, of continual improvement, and of not shirking the responsibility for things. If you want to fix the situation of those workers, and I believe that it sounds as though it does need fixing, fix the working regulations and labour laws to give those workers some rights and protection while working in Canada. They don’t need to be Canadian Citizens to do that. If they want to become Canadians, they can pursue that separately. Canadian Citizenship is not a Work Permit Mr. Sinclair, while you would reduce what it means to be Canadian to a question of where you work.

This has me too irritated to even listen to tunes at present. I’m so sick of this complete drivel and nonsense getting press time when the Green Party and other more legitimate viewpoints can be included in national debates or panels.

Apologies for so few links to background, but I’ve been working and thinking this through for a long while. It’s all a miasma of facts condensing to opinion.

Canada Still Doesn’t Get IP

I’ve disputed a number of our intellectual property laws and copyright initiatives in the past. It would appear that our “Education Ministers” are heading down a very, very foolish path. Rather than this nonsense, perhaps working to enable a funding model to get our kids more accessible levels of costs for post-secondary education would be a better use of their time and our money.

Michael Geist is a very effective critic and analyst on Canada’s IP law among other things, and raises a very large warning in his recent post of Education Ministers’ Copyright Proposal Needs a Rewrite. It would appear from his analysis that we’re heading down a blind alley that can really only work to make things worse. A bad law is worse than no law. That’s something I believe it would be very useful to teach a course in to new and old legislators.

I’d also encourage you to read Michael’s other posts on DRM. I’m not a total opponent to DRM due to the inability of far too many people to respect the needs and rights and efforts of the artist. I am fine with DRM that allows me to work with the media and material in a fair way in my own uses and environment, which includes ripping to my iPod (I bought the music, but I don’t always agree with the format for playing it) but will not allow me to redistribute it freely without some barrier.

Conversely, being neck-deep in technology for a living, I know what proprietary formats do to really muck up honest people, and it’s just painful. ANY DRM is by definition at this point proprietary, regardless of vendor claims to the contrary. It’s a balance that is very difficult to strike properly because the simple fact that far too many people believe that copying music is OK. This is really inexcusable when the cost for a track is very cheap by any standard. I’m a musician, and though I don’t make a living from it, I respect the time and effort and talent required to create something people really enjoy. Anyone who does should compensate the musician. If an artist chooses รข la the Grateful Dead to release recording for free (tape trees) in order to drive people to live performances, and thus to make a living off of performances, that is their choice, not the choice of the listener. Some artists cannot perform their works, or do not choose the lifestyle of the road, and it is not our right via theft to force them to do so or to give up their art. DRM is a pain in the neck to all those honest patrons because too may people lack the respect for the artist to compensate their efforts. I doubt most of those people would be willing to do their job for free in return.

Read up on this copyright issue, and please, get on to your provincial education minister and other government representatives and express the need to strike a fair balance, which the current copyright law does quite well for education, and to understand the environment we’re moving into and look for ways that people are compensated for their time, and fair use is guaranteed. Canada doesn’t need to make the same mistakes other Industrialized nations are with Intellectual Property.

Currently playing in iTunes: Ain’t No Mystery by Smash Mouth