Former things – OSSG

Having grown up in Brighton & Hove, I started to get frustrated with being there towards the end of the 2000s. At the time I was in a bubble of fairly high level web folks and had missed the heyday of BSD in Brighton back in the day (the first ever EuroBSDcon was held there in 2001 and before that Pavilion Internet one of the early UK ISPs, which was a FreeBSD shop, where the PPP stack evolved). Musically things had also changed, with the emergence of electro, dubstep, and minimal techno, things had moved on from the housier side of things which was more my thing.

So, I started looking elsewhere for folks interested in the lower levels of the software stack, and hardware. This got me visiting London monthly for London OpenSolaris User Group (LOSUG) and later the Open Source Hardware User Group (OSHUG) where twice a month I got to hear interesting topics and I could talk to likeminded folks who could understand what I was talking about. I was able to stay content with being in Brighton for a few years with this arrangement. I did consider moving to London but couldn’t see how to make it work financially at the time.

Ironically, some of the people and types I was trying to get away from in Brighton were on Paul Downey‘s The Web is Agreement poster, who was a co-founder of OSHUG 🙂 .

The Web is Agreement

The first OSHUG meeting I headed up for was #8 on MilkyMist (spot the dude with the wireframe beastie t-shirt) and from then on headed up regularly for a monthly fix. We have travelled to Kent, Hebden Bridge, Lincoln to hang out but mostly were in London, eventually settling in with the BCS Open Source Specialist Group. It is there where I became involved with event organisation, holding the annual conference for the pkgsrc packaging system, pkgsrcCon, in 2017. From there I organised workshops on NetBSD and evenings on various themes that I was interested in, like making music, FPGA, programming and most importantly, hardware 🙂

I also gave various talks over the years at BCS OSSG. The photo below was taken at the 2019 AGM where I gave a talk entitled “It’s Open Source, not gratis binaries”. The photo captures the moment where the talk was torpedoed by the objection that one should compile their own Firefox or Chrome which have hefty dependencies, taking lots of time & resources to build. It wasn’t the argument I was trying to make, but I hadn’t been clear in conveying that.
The slide on display is a reference to avoiding having to understand tools you rely on and going from fad to fad instead (fad at the time and currently, containers).

Me -“It’s Open Source, not gratis binaries”, BCS OSSG AGM 2019

The last event I organised was an evening on the theme of POWER & PowerPC. I will be stepping down from the event organisation team in September and continue participation as a member of the community.

Regarding music, in 2011, Ralph Lawson‘s 2020Vision put out a promo video for a day of parties they held in London and it made me want to be in London even more because musically it was really what I was into. I didn’t realise it until some years later that looking back I had indirectly and unconsciously fulfilled my wish, though since that video I only attended the Village Underground on two occassions.
Sometimes the end goal is reached, but not necessarily by the route imagined. 🙂

Heads up for RSS subscribers

I’m going to be experimenting with the migrating from WordPress to Hugo this week, if you subscribe to the RSS feeds on this site and wish to continue to do so, you might want to check everything is ok at your end after Monday the 25th. One of the key factors of migrating to Hugo is to preserve URLs for existing posts so hopefully there should be minimal fallout.


Last week I attended a conference on open source software called FOSDEM in Brussels, the two day event has lots of tracks, based on either specific projects or topics such as Java or securiy.

I attended the following talks
On Saturday
XMPP 101
The Open Observatory of Network Interference
Practical Security for developers, using OWASP ZAP
The future of on non-Linux systems
Declarative style GUI programming
How to build an Identity Management System on Linux

On Sunday
The Lua Scripting Language in the NetBSD Kernel
Supporting the new C and C++ standards in FreeBSD
Improvements in the OpenBSD IPsec stack

My favourite talk of the event was the OWASP talk on Saturday by Simon Bennetts who did a great job of clearly explaining what ZAP can do & how it is of use for testing the security of your web application.
The XMPP 101 talk gave an overview of what the protocol can do, the OONI talk had a very late start & laptop issues, didn’t get much from the talk but it does seem like an interesting project from the info on the website. Matthieu Herrb  talked about the progress of running on UNIX, conclusion “Tough times for non-linux systems”. Marc Balmer gave two talks on using Lua, first in GUI programming & the second on the lua(4) subsystem in the NetBSD kernel, allowing users to explore the system easily & doing rapid prototype without the initial steep learning curve of learning C & kernel internal, making the system internals easily accessible. The last talk on the Security track was on FreeIPA, luckily the slides were quiet detailed as it was impossible to hear the speaker because the mic was hanging too low off  his shirt collar.

The BSD track on Sunday was where I spent most of the day. David Chisnall spoke about the C & C++ standards & the mistakes made by the standards groups which we have to live with. I spent the lunch break talking with David about FreeBSD, how I struggle with doing buildworld on my X61s, what can be done to speed up buildworld, why the buildworld process takes so long & the tools Juniper has developed which allow you to track the dependency path for building each component in FreeBSD base.
Mike Belopuhov spoke about the IPsec stack & NAT64 support in OpenBSD, I had an opportunity to ask Mike about dead peer detection, in my previous site to site VPN deployment I had issues where if the connection dropped at either site, the tunnel with not be re-established, needing manual intervention, It was good to hear that this was a problem with the isakmpd & not necessarily a configuration issue.

There were a lots of projects & businesses with stands, Oreilly had a stand selling books, Google were in the recruitment section, Oracle with three big banners for java, mysql & something else, the lady on the stand was very friendly, telling me about how Oracle participates in open source software such as Java, the penny then dropped about the update 13 release.
It was good to see CAcert had a stand and were looking very busy with assurances. I visited the mozilla stand & had the opportunity to try out the firefoxOS on a nexus s?
I’m strongly considering moving to it as I’d rather go with firefoxOS than android, the lock down of iOS is very painful for sharing data between my own devices & makes it frustrating for getting content from several devices to a single place.
I visited the google stand to talk to the recruiters there, I was curious to learn about their recruitment process, since 2007 I have been approached by Google on 3 different occasion, the most recent being back in July last year. I always assumed they had drives every so many years & I’d just been lucky to have been listed on three separate occasions, it turns out actually that once you’re on their radar, they will make contact every once in a while to see if your situation has changed & if have developed sufficiently since last time to be able to pass the interview tests.
I spoke with others regarding this, with those now employed by them & those who have also been approached in the past, discussing why systems folks are sought after & what options you have should you wish to no longer be contacted (supposedly under Californian law, if a person requests a company to never be contacted again, the company has to comply?).

Over the weekend I spotted a few OpenBSD tops (more hoodies than t-shirts) & met my first MirBSD user/developer, Benny Siegert who was the organiser of the BSD track at FOSDEM.
I also had the opportunity to meet up with/bump into folks from communities such as MetaBUG, OSHUG, LOSUG, Brighton 2600, London *BSD, it was good to catch up.

Using Chillispot with Lightttpd

Whilst working on the next release of Brighton Chilli I found that if you attempt to use the stock hostspotlogin.cgi with lighttpd you’ll be presented with the following error message:
ChilliSpot Login Failed
Login must use encrypted connection.

Even though your server is setup correctly.
Apply this patch to your hostspotlogin.cgi & all should be well.

WooHoo! GeekLAN’s 2nd Birthday

It’s be 2 years since the 1st went up on this site. Stay tuned as I post more about stuff I loose sleep over. Things on the short list of new stuff to play with are clusters (as soon as I can get a cheap array & some fibre channel cards!), redundent firewalls with CARP & some stuff on topics I haven’t covered yet (BeOS/YellowTAB, Tru64 & OpenVMS). I will also be rolling out another blog which will be more rant oriented in the next couple of days, the new blog will be called DustBinTin.

Is anyone even listening?! 😀

Orinoco Silver to Gold Firmware hack

A few years too late 🙂 but anyways, If you’ve got any old Orinoco based chipset cards that you’d like 128 bit WEP encryption on you can use a tool called alchemy to mod the firmware so the card is ID’d as a Gold card, then reflash the firmware to have full 128 bit wep.

You can grab a copy of Alchemy here or here

Then use the Agere firmware flash util filename to reflash the card (as It’ll flash just about any Orinoco based card), grab a copy of the tool here

Darwin Streaming Server Port Usage

As Darwin SS uses the RTSP protocol to stream (unless youre streaming via port 80) you must have the following ports open on your firewall 554, 7070, 8000, 8001 then anything starting from 6970 & up depending on how many clients you want to support.
Apple have a basic support article on this here