Archives: May 2007

Chip and Pin Woes

I have the pleasure of having a UK money in a bank account and credit card. This is great, because UK cards are the only ones that don’t charge exorbitant currency-conversion charges when you use them overseas. I live in Cape Town, so I’m almost always using it overseas.

Chip and Pin, never used to be supported on South African credit card equipment, but these days, it’s mandatory in UK, and supported on almost all credit card machines. Back when it wasn’t supported people just used to swipe the card. Now, they actually try and read the chip. The procedure is something like this:

  • Ready”
  • Insert card”
  • Swipe card”
  • Insert card”
  • etc.

At some point, they give up, and ask for another card. The good ones can go between swiping and poking in a fraction of a second, in the belief that the faster they do it, the more likely it is to work. The only real solution seems to be to get the supervisor card out, and override Chip mode….

I thought that was all, until yesterday, when I got an even more interesting error message: “The PAN length does not comply with the min/max length in the BIN file”. Does anyone know WTF that means??? :-)

Hardware sucks

I spent a morning trying to debug my LTSP server, which wasn’t booting after it’s feisty upgrade.

I assume it was something to do with RAID & LVM on the root initially, but after I got through that, it still wouldn’t boot.

Aah, but the recovery option worked

Ok, so maybe it’s something with usplash, restart and boot without quiet but with splash. Boots.

Eventually I found that it just needed a few extra seconds of spin-time in the grub screen (increase timeout to 10), and now it works.

Bloody hardware!

Sarge -> Etch Upgrade and apache2

Thanks to Debian bug 407171, if you had mod_proxy installed in apache2, and upgrade to etch, it’ll also install mod_disk_cache, which means your /var partition is going to fill up quite quickly.

This happened to 2 CLUG servers.

I don’t think this is the correct behaviour, and I’m even more suprised to see that it the appearance of the bug is documented in a bug-report.

AVM ISDN drivers and Linux 2.6

I had the pleasure of trying to get an AVM Fritz ISA card working under linux 2.6 this week. While drivers for AVM’s premium equipment is in Linux mainline, these drivers are not. The used to be obtained from AVM’s ftp site, but these days, if you look there, all that you’ll find is old 2.4. drivers, and a notice saying future drivers are available in SuSE.

Before I continue, I wish that all hardware vendors that write linux drivers would get them mainlined. I’ve begged AVM to do this before.

I tried porting the old driver to a modern 2.6 kernel, but while I could get it to compile, I never actually got it to work :-)

For the record, and for googlers, here’s how you build these buggers:

  • You read gentoo’s ebuild
  • This points you to somewhere on where you can download a 2.6 compatible version of the driver. The URL given didn’t work for me, but I poked around with similar URLs, and came up with the goods
  • You’ll see a sed command that adds some includes to everything. Run this.
  • You’ll also find a whole pile of patches, needed for recent kernels.
  • Really old cards might not be actively patched, but many of the changes in other drivers are applicable to all of them, i.e. in the patch for fritz.pcmcia, the entire atomic_xchg function is removed; this must happen for fritz.classic, too.

I got the fritz.classic driver working with Linux, thanks to Gentooers :-)