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Hurd Traffic #17 For 29 Sep 1999

By Zack Brown

Do you pine for the nice days of minix-1.1, when men were men and wrote their own device drivers?
Are you without a nice project and just dying to cut your teeth on an OS you can try to modify for your needs?
Are you finding it frustrating when everything works on minix? No more all-nighters to get a nifty program working?
Then this post might be just for you :-)
-- Linus Torvalds, 1991

Table Of Contents

Mailing List Stats For This Week

We looked at 68 posts in 227K.

There were 25 different contributors. 13 posted more than once. 5 posted last week too.

The top posters of the week were:


1. Updating Documentation For Installation Procedure
16 Sep 1999 - 19 Sep 1999 (5 posts) Archive Link: "Minor missing detail in the installation instructions on the Web page"
People: Daniel BurrowsMarcus Brinkmann

Daniel Burrows pointed out that the installation instructions didn't cover the new features of 'cross-install' that would take care of downloading the needed packages automatically. Marcus Brinkmann was happy to get this correction, and promised to update the web pages ASAP. Alex Shinn suggested having 'cross-install' use a default server for downloading the files, but Marcus pointed out that people should use mirrors to avoid bottlenecking one server.

Under the Subject: Error message tweak in cross-install, Daniel Burrows announced, "In my never-ending quest to advertise the download capabilities of cross-install, I've made a minor tweak: the script as I modified it suggests the use of --download if a required file is missing and --download was not given. It also tries to exit more cleanly if a download entirely fails, and cleans up the formatting of "Missing packages will be downloaded from ${download}" (there were no leading spaces, so it was squished up against the previous sentence, and a trailing period was missing. Call me picky, but..)"


2. ISDN Under The Hurd
18 Sep 1999 (3 posts) Archive Link: "ISDN under hurd?"
People: Norbert NemecMarcus Brinkmann

Norbert Nemec asked about the status of ISDN under the Hurd. Marcus Brinkmann replied that there was currently no support at all and asked for volunteers.


3. Updated 'update-translator' Script
18 Sep 1999 - 19 Sep 1999 (9 posts) Archive Link: "update-translator script for review"
People: Marcus Brinkmann

Marcus Brinkmann posted a new version of his 'update-translator' script, and there was an implementation/policy discussion.


4. Unsolved Installation Problems
18 Sep 1999 - 20 Sep 1999 (7 posts) Archive Link: "installation bug?"
People: Daniel BurrowsMarcus Brinkmann

Alex Shinn was getting 'dpkg' errors when 'cross-install' tried to unpack the dpkg package, during installation. His error was:

ERROR: dpkg did return unusual messages, please investigate:

dpkg-deb: subprocess paste killed by signal (Broken pipe)
dpkg: error processing temp_build/dpkg.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --fsys-tarfile returned error exit status 2
Errors were encountered while processing:

Marcus Brinkmann suggested downloading the deb file again, but Alex tried this and reported the md5sum as identical to the previous file; and Marcus confirmed that the md5sum was indeed correct. Marcus said the problem was definitely not with the deb file. At this point Daniel Burrows confirmed the problem, running into the identical error as Alex. Marcus' suggestion of running 'dpkg --fsys-tarfile' on the deb file did not produce the error, nor did running through each dpkg step by hand.

Marcus was at a loss to explain this behavior, and the thread died.


5. Stature Of 'cross-install'
19 Sep 1999 (2 posts) Archive Link: "bug in cross-install"
People: John TobeyMarcus Brinkmann

John Tobey posted a patch to 'cross-install', and asked, "I don't know whether cross-install is part of a package in which case I should be filing a Debian bug report..."

Marcus Brinkmann explained, "No, it is only a "temporary" hack. I will work on a proper boot-floppies package later (probably merging it with the Linux boot floppy package)."


6. Script To Create Hurd Boot Floppies Under Linux
19 Sep 1999 (4 posts) Archive Link: "making the floppy without rebooting"
People: John TobeyRoland McGrath

John Tobey posted a script and announced, "I'm working on a script based on Marcus's how to make a boot disk (part I). My hope is to have it create the boot disk under Linux without requiring a reboot." Marcus was overjoyed by this news, and he and Roland McGrath helped track down a couple problems with the script.


7. Block Size Problem Causes Install Errors
22 Sep 1999 - 23 Sep 1999 (14 posts) Archive Link: "panic: main: no root node!"
Topics: FS: ext2
People: Marcus BrinkmannAndreas VoegeleRoland McGrathIvan E. Moore II

This was the longest thread of the week, though it took place over just two days. Ivan E. Moore II finally got around to installing the Hurd, but during the partition check he got the error "panic: main: no root node!" This happened whether he used the cross-install method or the tarball method of installation. Marcus Brinkmann cried out, "Whoa! I never saw this one," and there was a bit of a bug-hunt that didn't lead anywhere. But then elsewhere, Andreas Voegele said, "It's the block size. The file system should be created with "mke2fs -b 1024 -o hurd /dev/hda1"."

Roland McGrath asked for some elaboration; Andreas wasn't sure, but told what he knew:

Either the ext2 file system implementation that comes with GNU Mach does only support block sizes of 1024 bytes or there's a bug in the implementation.

I tried to install the Hurd yesterday and got the same error message like you. I figured out that the mke2fs version that comes with potato by default uses a block size of 4096 bytes instead of 1024 bytes if the size of a partition exceeds a certain size (800 MB?).

When I created the file system with a block size of 1024 instead of 4096 bytes, I was able to boot the Hurd.

You can find out the block size of a ext2 file system with dumpe2fs.

Ivan reported complete success with Andreas' advice, and the thread petered out.


8. Confusions Over Translators
23 Sep 1999 (4 posts) Archive Link: "umount missing ?"
People: Thomas BushnellMarcus Brinkmann

Jean-Jacques Roh installed the Hurd and got bitten by the philosophical differences between it and UNIX: he couldn't find the 'umount' command to unmount a partition. Marcus Brinkmann explained that there was no 'umount' command under the hurd, and that Jean-Jacques should use 'settrans -afg /mnt' to unmount a partition. Marcus also gave pointers to a page about translators and Thomas Bushnell's "Towards A New Strategy Of OS Design".







Sharon And Joy

Kernel Traffic is grateful to be developed on a computer donated by Professor Greg Benson and Professor Allan Cruse in the Department of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco. This is the same department that invented FlashMob Computing. Kernel Traffic is hosted by the generous folks at All pages on this site are copyright their original authors, and distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2.0.