Diary (August)

August 31st, 2001

As Kermit the Frog once said," It's not that easy being green, having to spend each day the color of the leaves, when I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold, or something more colorful like that." I am feeling pretty blue right now. A few days from now, I shall be single again. To my horror, I realize that at this moment in time no-one is in love with me. I guess I shall have to find a Mondo user with a short skirt and a long jacket...

At the moment, I am working on mondo-restore.c; some users have reported bugs in the big file restoration phase but I am unable to replicate said bugs. However, I am rewriting the C code to make it easier to understand and to make it generated detailed feedback while it restores, so that when users send me their log files I can figure out exactly what is going on.

August 30th, 2001

By the way - on November 26th, 2001, I shall start spelling in British English. I use American English at the moment but once I'm back in Britain y'all will have to watch as I practise my licence to colour myself. :-)

Another day, another Mondi/Mindi release. We are now up to Mindi v0.39 rel 6 and Mondo v1.13 rel 7. They are bugfix releases and they are fine. If they were women and I were a male chauvanist pig, I would eye them up and say, "Yo, baby got back!" (I would then be suspended for subjecting innocent software to sexual harassment in the workplace.)

Yesterday evening, it was my pleasure to present Mondo to the Nashville Linux User Group. The audience was very interested, very appreciative and very quiet! I had a great time and I gather they did too. Mondo behaved iself when I wiped and restored my system, except for a couple of cosmetic bugs which I have now fixed. My grandfather used to say, "Go everywhere twice - once for a good time and once to apologize." I hope I am at next month's NLUG meeting. Their meetings are off the chain, dawg, for real. (In case you were wondering, I don't front, nor do I play, although I have known to trip.)

I am going back to England in under three months. It would be selfish and short-sighted for me to allow myself to be attracted to a woman while I'm over here. My divorce comes through in a matter of days, so technically I could sleep with a woman if I wanted ('technically' because I'm not looking hard and I'm not sure I'm particularly appealing). However, I really don't think it would be ethical for me to do that. As a good friend of mine put it to me recently, men say they don't have a problem with one-night stands but they do; and, as I said in response, I tend to fall in love with the women that I sleep with. That is one reason I am so picky: it is a form of self-defense.

If I could avoid falling in love and if I could just find a woman who found me attractive, then a one-night stand would be an interesting experiment. You see, I've never had one. I have had two lovers; the first was a mistake and the second one I married (draw your own conclusions about that one!). I am not emotionally backward; I am not frigid; I am not afraid of women. I love women's company. It's just that until I met my wife, I didn't have the guts to come out and say, "Okay, [your name], I think you're absolutely adorable, you're so much fun to be with, would you like to go out with me [as something more than a friend]?"

Well, as I said to that certain good friend of mine, I am dating a girl but I am not dating her. That is, we go out to lunch, we see movies together, we hang out... and that's it. Only today did I muster the courage to say, "If I told you I thought you were fascinating, intelligent, warm, kind and a lot of fun to be around, a great person to be with,... what would you say?" She beamed but said nothing. She has told me in the past that she loves my company, that I am 'precious' and very sweet, and frankly I am content with that. I am not looking for hot sex or passionate flings.

Of course, hot sex would be nice but it, like a good Sly Stallone movie, is hard to find; so hard, in fact, that often you'll settle for something mediocre and pretend it's twice as good as it is, just to try to satisfy yourself. Wait, did I just mention Sly Stallone and sexual release in the same sentence? Eek, I need a vacation!

August 28th, 2001

OK, now it's August 28th. I've released yet another Mondo/Mindi set. We're now up to Mondo v1.13 rel 6 and Mindi v0.39 rel 5. I've just vaped and restored my entire system with them. They are looking seriously good. I am very pleased with them.

[Earlier] Technically, it is late August 27th. I have been stomping bugs all evening. There were a lot of silly restore-time bugs that did not present themselves until I restored my Red Hat system in an all-or-nothing, please-God-let-this-work restore over the very system I had just backed up. I have stomped over 20 bugs in an evening. The bugs never should have crept into the software in the first place, of course, but oh well...

August 26th, 2001

Mondo v1.13 (final) is out. It is looking very good. Most of the improvements and additions were made to the restore-time software, stuff you never see unless you have an emergency or you decide on a whim to wipe and restore your system.

Red Hat's newt library is groovy. It is thanks to newt that I was finally able to write an attractive restore-time interface and a useful mountlist editor. The mountlist editor is particularly cool, IMNSHO, because it checks the mountlist-to-be as you edit it. The flaws and potential problems are displayed at the bottom of the window, below the list of /dev/xxx's and /mnt/yyy's. If there are lots of problems, there are lots of messages. Each time you resolve a problem, one message goes away. Each time you create a problem, a message is added. Simple.

Fran Boon pointed out that it's a bit silly of me to post multiple releases with identical filenames. Consequently, v1.13 release 4 is also v1.13 (final). There were 3 beta releases prior to the final (fourth) release. Incidentally, the mountlist editor was Fran's idea. I have been talking with Fran for about a month, blissfully unaware that Fran is a guy. Fran, in England, means Frances. A buddy of mine read my web site and cringed with embarrassment: he had always assumed Fran was a guy (which he was, it later transpired). Oops. Sorry, Fran.

I have been getting a lot of erroneous bug reports from users whose kernels don't work with Mondo. Mondo creates boot disks, a non-trivial task. Some kernels just do not work on boot disks. Mondo's kernel-related requirements are covered in the Mondo FAQ, Mondo's Download page and Mindi's Download page. In addition, Mondo does offer the user the chance to use Mondo's kernel instead of the user's own. If you have trouble getting Mondo to work, try saying 'N' when asked, "Do you want to use your own kernel (Y/N)?".

August 25th, 2001

Mondo and Mindi get better with each release. Please try the betas if you are feeling brave. I am doing my best to make Mondo support Red Hat's "LABEL=" extensions to /etc/stab.

This latest beta includes a fancy-shmantzy mountlist editor. I'm still testing it but I think it's groovy, baby.

August 23rd, 2001

Mondo v1.13 (beta 2) and Mindi v0.39 (beta 2) are out. They support Red Hat's "LABEL=" extensions to /etc/fstab. OK, now be warned: I have not tested this code properly yet. It seems to work just fine. However, I have not yet run the backup/compare/restore cycle. I shall do that tonight. If it all works, fine. If it doesn't, I shall know in 24 hours or less.

August 22nd, 2001

I fixed some minor bugs in the new 1.13 beta & uploaded fresh packages. The latest backup matched my live filesystem; great. It looks as if I have fixed the 'sorry, may I please have a CD that doesn't exist?' bug.

August 21st, 2001

Mark Hannah found a bug in mondo-restore (the C program, not the scripts). If you try to restore a really big file that was spread across two or more CD's then sometimes mondo-restore will just sit there: it won't move on to the next CD. Or, if you are comparing a really big file, it will ask for a CD that doesn't exist. I am fixing the code now. In the meantime, if you experience that particular problem, please use the scripts instead. (See the ramdisk's README file for details.)

Fran Boon gave me a long list of comments and suggestions. Thanks, Fran. Feedback is always appreciated. I'll implement 90% of the changes she recommends. Do other users have wishlists they would like to send me?

Oops! The failsafe 2.4.7 kernel is compiled for the K7. My bad. I'll fix that tonight... [Later] OK, I've released Mindi v0.39 and Mondo v1.13; they're both in beta but I want to get these bugfixes out there NOW.

August 18th, 2001

The latest Mindi release - v0.38 - is out today, and includes a 2.4.7 kernel, so you don't have to recompile your kernel to make it sane - er, I mean suitable for boot disks. Mondo v1.12 is out today, too. Download and enjoy.

As usual, I am backing up my system overnight and restoring in the morning to test the software. Fun. [Addendum] OK, Mondo works fine but my CD writer is b0rken. It complains more than I do.

I have bought my plane ticket back to England. What a pity my American employer was unwilling or unable to sponsoer my work visa. Tell me this: if there is an American out there who can do my job as well as I do, how come 100 people were interviewed, 15 were hired and I was the only immigrant? Hint: they believe in affirmative action; my résumé mentioned Africa; they thought I was Black.

It is a good thing that I do not listen to criticism from strangers. A lot of White Americans accuse me of hanging off my (Liberian) wife's coat-tails. Bollocks. She and I are, or were, one flesh. If you speak to me, you might as well be speaking to her. That is her view and I have come to accept it.

In additional, she is not a Black American: she is Liberian. A lot of Black Americans are jealous of that fact, she tells me. Indeed, a (Black) friend of mine once said, "Oh yeah, those Africans, they think they're so special, so much better than us." (Us = Black Americans, I guess. I did not inquire. Nice to know racial prejudice is crossing racial boundaries, isn't it?)

I get stick from a few Black friends for trying to hard to "be Black". My wife is not Black, she is Liberian. So, if anything, I am trying to be Liberian... only I'm not trying, of course. Africa is made up of several countries, each of which has different tribes and languages. Black Americans are Black Americans because the culture was homogenized after years and years of you-know-what. Likewise, a lot of White Americans parade down the street once a year dressed in green and call themselves Irish. Bollocks. My grandmother was Irish and I do not call myself Irish, nor to I talk about my "Irish roots". I was born and raised in England. I am English. I love and respect Ireland as part of Great Britain but I am not Irish. I am more Liberian than I am Irish, and you don't see me wearing an "I Love Liberia" t-shirt.

Ironically, the same friend that said, "Africans think they're all that," also vilified me for saying Irish Americans aren't really Irish. She said, "What do you know about culture? About what it means to be away from your homeland? About how you define yourself by where you're from, not where you are now?" Well, duh. I moved 3000 miles to be with the woman I loved. I think I know the difference between culture and nationality.

She was also the woman who accused me of looking at my customers (when I ran a computer store) and judging them by their skin color. She said I saw a typical Black man as "just another nigger." Incidentally, she told me - as a compliment, I am sure - that I was the only White man she had ever had at her house. To cut a long story, short, it became apparent that I knew the difference between being Black and being 'ghetto', and she didn't. My wife backs me to the hilt on this point. (Jeanette and I are still close friends, by the grace of God.)

So, on the one hand, I feel it is right and proper for me to embrace my wife's culture. She feels the same way. However, I do occasionally get in trouble for unwittingly using "Black slang". I am not sure which slang is Black and which slang is White (or Hispanic or whatever) and frankly I resent the idea that certain expression are the preserve of one social or ethnic group. That smacks of snobbery. I attended private schools for 10 years; I know about snobbery.

Sorry, folks, but unless you've moved from one English-speaking country to another, you have no clue how different the local dialects are. I only found out last week that getting back with someone was not the same as getting back to someone. I have been in this country for 2 years. Okay?

Besides which, I am not White: I am English. The trouble is, certain ignorant Americans of all colors and creeds cannot distinguish between a White man and an immigrant. I am forever encountering ignorance and prejudice, and the ironic thing is, because I'm White, I'm assumed either not to care or not to be subject to it at all. "Oh no, Hugo, we mean those other immigrants. You're different." Or someone will tell me a racist joke. Do you have any idea how much I hate that word? The funny thing is, some of my friends would probably accuse me of hanging off my wife's coat-tails for loathing that word as much as I do. Well, we'll be divorced in under a month, so I guess everyone's happy.

The White racists will be happy because another interracial couple has split up. ("I do worry about the children," they tell me. Well, maybe you should stop hitting your own children in the name of God, before you worry about another couple's kids.)

The Black racists will be happy because I'm just another White boy who doesn't Black culture ... or maybe I do, maybe I just don't like it as much as I like Liberian culture, and maybe the fact that I know the difference (along with more history than most Black or White Americans would like me to) scares the pants off certain people.

Some of my English friends think I'm racist against White people, so I guess they'll be happy I'm coming back into the fold of "us" and leaving "them" behind. (I'm not sure if "them" = Americans or what. I don't care.)

The bottom line: skin color means nothing to me. That is why America's obsession with race was such a shock. Where I come from, you do not ask where people are from or where their parents were born. My father was born in the aftermath of WW2 and you did not ask where people were from. You just didn't. People wouldn't have pulled half the stunts they pulled in my presence if I were Black, which disgusts me because I would have gladly suffered in my wife's place when she came to America and was attacked by other Black kids for being 'different'.

Maybe it's different in New York or California. Down here in Tennessee, people are as ignorant and racist as ever, only now it's not just White Americans that are that way. Never mind. I'll be gone soon. I can go back to a country where I won't get in trouble for "implying that a ghetto is a negative place". God forbid we should remember the Jewish ghettos of Germany and Poland, or the modern-day Hispanic ghettos of East LA, or the Black ghettos of South Central. No, they're not negative at all.

Or, as one White American put it to me, "Well, slavery was wrong but a lot of the slaves were very well-treated. They must have been. I mean, why would you damage your own property? That's what my husband says. And when he holds his Civil War re-enactments, Black people come and shout at him and call him 'cracker'. See, Black people are racist too! There!"

God save us all. I honestly hope the entire South moves to Mexico. I think the one thing Mexico lacks is a bunch of tobacco-chewing, fat, inbred, ignorant, sweaty White people. I can picture them running across the border, looking for burritos and beer. Oops! Someone might think I'm racist against rednecks. My bad, dawg. I guess rednecks need to be protected. They do, after all, have a history of oppression (or oppressing, anyway).

So, as I said, it's a good thing I don't listen to criticism from strangers, or I might have to write a great big diatribe against this entire country. Oh, wait a minute... Um... Oh dear. Hmm. Maybe I have some issues I need to work out. Please don't listen to me, sah. I'm just a poor immigrant.

August 16th, 2001

Please try the latest beta & let me know what you think. I am slowly but surely ironing out some long-term bugs which didn't rear their ugly heads until now, for some reason.

August 15th, 2001

I have pulled Mondo v1.11 from the web site. Some silly bugs have shown up and I just don't trust that version.

Mondo v1.12 beta is out. Please try it if you are feeling adventurous. Otherwise, stick with v1.09 or v1.10, please.

I released v1.11 in a hurry. I must not allow myself to feel rushed, or I'll end up create some bugs in an effort to fix others.

August 14th, 2001

Mondo v1.11 is out. Some silly bugs have been fixed. WARNING - this version is incompatible with previous versions. Do not mix and match. It saves the afio archives as 'N.afio.bz2'; previous versions saved the archives as 'N.tar.bz2'.

My CD writer is not b0rken after all: it is just insane. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it does not. Oh well, at least I have one. Maybe I need more cooling fans. Right now, my computer sounds like an old man that can't sleep.

Would anyone like to coauthor an article on Mondo with me?

It's official: I am going back to England on November 26th. WebMD cannot persuade the INS to let them sponsor my work visa. I have no regrets about my marriage or about moving to America. I do, however, think I shall miss the cheap gas and free refills.

August 12th, 2001

There were silly typos in /usr/share/mindi/mindi and /usr/share/mondo/mondo-archive. I have corrected them. The changes are reflected in the new tarballs and RPM's.

If you want me to support GRUB, please send me a copy of your grub.conf file and instructions on how you run GRUB (e.g. install-grub <foo> <bar>). People tell me, "Oh, GRUB is easy to use, easier than LILO," but I cannot make it work at all. I have been trying from time to time for several weeks. If you want GRUB support, please help me to help you.

The "feedback" web page, the FAQ and the boot-time error messages have been amended to remind users that the kernel, not Mindi, is usually at fault when the CD will not boot; users should copy their floppy disk images to floppy disks and boot from those. If your kernel cannot boot from a CD, it means something is wrong with the kernel; if you do not have the time or energy to fix your kernel, please boot from floppy disks.

August 11th, 2001

Mondo v1.10 came out today.The restore engine now uses newt instead of ncurses. I think it looks much nicer now. You be the judge. The new version includes some minor bugfixes. See CHANGES for details. Mindi v0.37, which was released today, has some bugfixes of its own.

Please try the new versions and e-mail the mailing list (or me) with your feedback. The new restore-time engine is easier to use and prettier than the ugly old ncurses-based interface. My thanks go to Red Hat for their work on the newt and slang libraries.

August 6th, 2001

Phillip Deackes managed to get Mindi to work with the new OSS sound modules. I'm not sure how important audio playback is during disaster recovery but it's better not to get any weird kernel-related error messages, that's for sure. Nice one, Phillip.

August 5th, 2001

A friend suggested I should tell Linux Journal about Mondo. Apparently, in November 2000, L.J. wrote a six-page article about how to do by hand what Mondo does automatically. (At the time, Mondo was in mothballs, so I don't blame them for not mentioning it.) I have e-mailed one of L.J.'s associate editors in an attempt to hawk my warez.

I am working on fixing Mondo's "Cuckoo Mode" (Windows-only backups). Stay tuned.

You know, the funny thing about mailing lists is that people spend more time bickering with each other than helping inquisitive newbies. This leads me to believe that the loudest voices in the Red Hat mailing list are not the wisest but the most insecure. It is pointless to get into arguments with individuals in private if the bone of contention is the accuracy of the information a person is giving; it is wiser, surely, to tell the person asking the question, "Look, I think X is wrong, I think I'm right," then everyone else can chime in. Likewise, better to take long-winded, nit-picking discussions about Dell to - oh, I dunno, um - a Dell-related mailing list?

If I return to England after my divorce (which I shall have to, because my visa runs out in 3 months) then the INS might not let me even visit America for up to ten years. Well, fine, I never liked your country anyway. You don't talk right and you can't spell. ;-) So there. :-)

August 4th, 2001

Dave Granz has sent me a couple of neat bugfixes for the restore scripts. NB: These bugs are not present in the newer 'mondo-restore' C program. However, a lot of people still use the shell scripts, which is why I am so glad Dave found & fixed the bug. The bug did not impede the proper restoration of data but it still needed to be fixed.

I am looking for ways to polish Mondo, before I get to work on the Windows-only side. It is pure procrastination.

Oh, and the manual is doing nicely. I have been working hard to write more documentation of Mondo.

I have updated the front page to include references to a few sites that carry Mondo. I'm very excited to see that some sites are automatically picking up new releases by themselves. High praise indeed.

August 2nd, 2001

Mondo v1.09 contains a few minor bugfixes to v1.08; Mindi v0.36 contains a couple of important bugfixes, too. However, both programs are entering maturity. If you cannot make Mindi/Mondo work, it is probably because your kernel is old, broken or esoteric.

I have installed Mandrake 8.0 on my first hard drive, Slackware 8.0 on my second and Red Hat 7.1 on my third. I have been testing Mindi and Mondo on all three and the latest versions work pretty well.

As for being "Red Hat-centric", Mindi/Mondo would not be anything-centric if the Linux disributions abided by a standard of some kind. If you have ever tried writing a program that runs on a dozen different distros, you will know what I mean. If you haven't, well, please don't whine if Mondo runs okay on Red Hat 7.1 but not on Dinky Dorky 2.3r4.

Click here for pre-August gossip