Saturday, January 31, 2004

Today I installed the Hurd

It was not a success.

I took a clean drive and installed in a newly acquired 1U server. It had been hosting Twisted Matrix's website until recently, when it began to suffer from overheating. Case open, next to my other machines, it seems to be alright, but the fan is obscenely loud. Then I installed Debian/Linux, since there is no bootstrap installer for GNU/Hurd. Then I went ahead with GNU/Hurd.

The install wasn't that bad. I screwed up three times before I got it right, once because I didn't read carefully enough and rebooted improperly, and twice because, for whatever reason, mke2fs on Linux didn't generate a filesystem the Hurd could handle.

Getting the network up was a breeze, just one somewhat strange command. No DHCP support, apparently, but luckily my network could handle a random new IP showing up. Installing software was easy, of course. Just apt-get away.

My original goal was to see if any of Twisted's unit tests passed. I installed Python, but apparently the most recent version was 2.3a0, which had plenty of bugs (although none that I think Twisted's unit tests tickle, but who knows?). Before it even ran any, though, segfault and core dump. Woops.

Getting Twisted itself also brought up a minor bump. There is no random device on the Hurd, unless you configure one yourself. #hurd on irc.freenode.net told me there was no standard translator (a translator, as far as I can tell, takes a device file and makes it do something useful) for this, and I couldn't bring myself to download a random translator from the web, build, and install it. These are essentially kernel modules, after all. So I suffered the lack of ssh and did a pserver checkout of Twisted instead.

Since no unit tests passed, I figured I'd go back and figure out what the story with Python versions was. One apt-get install links later, another segfault. Unable to browse the web, run Twisted apps, or ssh, I began to lose interest. #hurd assured me that these segfaults were not a normal occurrence, so I might have simply misconfigured something. Who knows? Perhaps I'll try to examine the core dumps with gdb, but debian doesn't make it too simple to get debug versions of most things, and the criminally loud fan is amazingly annoying, so who knows if I'll actually follow through.

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