Wednesday, August 10, 2005

iPod returns

I have a new iPod to replace the one I submerged in water a few weeks ago. For a moment I thought that the insurance company had tracked down a 40G monochrome model to replace the one I killed, but I was pleasantly surprised that, evidently, they hadn't:


I notice that Apple is still pretty keen to differentiate design and manufacturing:


I still think that's a bit lame. You've got to admit, though, the packaging is pretty neat:


It starts out as a cube, and folds out to what you see above. Here are the accessories:


I'm glad to see the wall-plug charger, as I've misplaced my original one. What's missing from the photograph above, though? My old 40GB monochrome iPod shipped with a desktop cradle, as well as a FireWire cable. These are now accessories that you can purchase separately—I think this is also lame. Of course, it doesn't affect me, because I have those accessories from my old iPod. But I'd be pretty disappointed to have to go out and buy them separately if I'd just spent the $A 600 to buy a new 60GB colour iPod.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Samba: it so almost "just works"

Now that I'm a veteran of the Finder's "Connect to Server..." dialog, I know exactly how to mount a Samba share on the PowerBook. All I've done since my aborted NFS trial is install Samba 3.0.14 on bigbird, the FreeBSD box. I used SWAT to set up a very basic Samba installation, aiming solely to share home directories. I added myself as a user to the smbpasswd file. (Usernames are shared across the machines, it's just UIDs that are not.) I fired everything up, and opened the "Connect to Server..." dialog. I entered my username and password, just as I would from a Windows XP machine. Then nothing. This progress dialog came up, and just kept on spinning:


Of course, the non-Mac user in me just couldn't give up there. On bigbird, the following cryptic lines appear in /var/log/samba/log.kermit, the client's log file:
[2005/08/09 17:28:13, 0] smbd/service.c:make_connection_snum(577)
Can't become connected user!
[2005/08/09 17:28:21, 0] rpc_parse/parse_prs.c:prs_mem_get(537)
prs_mem_get: reading data of size 2 would overrun buffer.
[2005/08/09 17:28:21, 0] rpc_server/srv_pipe.c:api_pipe_bind_req(919)
api_pipe_bind_req: unable to unmarshall RPC_HDR_RB struct.
I imagine the critical problem is that Samba "Can't become connected user!". This doesn't make a lot of sense to me, since, of course, the Samba servers are running as root.

To make matters worse, there doesn't seem to be anything (much) wrong with the setup of the Samba server, since I can connect just fine from my Windows XP machine. Are there any known difficulties with Mac OS X as a Samba client? I seem to be so close.

Saturday, August 6, 2005

NFS: it doesn't "just work"

I still do a reasonable amount of computing on bigbird, my main FreeBSD machine. (The details are not important—this post is about to get nerdy enough. It's just that bigbird is the fastest machine with the most storage on the LAN.) I log in remotely from kermit the PowerBook, but to view any output, I have been transferring it to kermit using scp. This got boring really fast, and this afternoon I decided it was time to set up an NFS export of some directories on bigbird to kermit. I'm no NFS guru, but it's not like it's anything I hadn't done before, either.

I remembered reading some articles about mounting filesystems over NFS on Mac OS X a few months ago, so I was prepared for it not to be straightforward. My preparedness was rewarded: it certainly didn't "just work". I had to find a system tool called "NetInfo Manager", buried in the Utilities subdirectory of the Applications folder. There's nothing, to me at least, about "NetInfo Manager" that says, "this is the application you use to set up an NFS mount". I knew it was, though, because I was following along with one of the many web pages that describes the unnecessarily complicated process of setting this up. Here's what I had to do:
  1. Click on the /mounts directory in NetInfo Manager.
  2. Add a new subdirectory called bigbird:/home.
  3. Add the following properties: vfstype=nfs, opts=net, dir=/Network/Servers/.
  4. Save the settings and restart the computer.
Now, to my mind, that's all a bit Windows-esque, especially the last step. Restart the computer? (Of course, the usual caveat applies: there may have been an easier way to do it which didn't involve a restart. But if there was, it wasn't obvious to me.) You certainly couldn't claim that mounting an NFS filesystem "just works".

(Worse, because the subtleties of syntax in the /etc/exports file on the NFS server were lost in the back of my brain somewhere, I had to restart the PowerBook no less than five times to get it all working. Now that's hardly Mac OS X's fault, but it would have been nice if there was an easier way than a restart.)