OpenSUSE install and some luck

Last weekend I  installed OpenSUSE 10.3. It was a bumpy installation, since I was without any CD I could burn. So I downloaded the ISO image to FAT32 partition, two additional files (kernel + initrd) and started install. I added another (non-free software) CD image to the list of repositories, but the install had failed afted being done with the 1st CD (Because the CD image was on the partition that was about to be added to /etc/fstab, with no formatting or anything destructive. But that was enough to confuse the installer and make it exit with an error.). So I tried to boot into the installed OS and.. the boot failed. So I was only left with a GRUB command line (because the menu.lst file had not been created) and a WinXP partition which I had to figure out how to boot from.

GRUB built-in help is the most useless help ever.

I  needed the chainloader command, ok, but that command wants "blocklist or file name". However, the blocklist syntax is nowhere to be found in the GRUB help. I was just about to go to work and burn the installation CD, when I saw another command (blocklist) which, given filename, prints out a list of blocks. I knew the kernel image filename on the root partition, so I finally got to see how the blocklist syntax is supposed to look like (ie. 0+1 = 1 sector starting from 0th). That enabled me to boot into XP, move stuff to unused partition and successfully install SUSE.

HOWEVER... I had a critical password stored on the root partition which got mkfs'd and overwritten several times.. and it was filled up to 60%, like never before. I thought that I had lost the password, but I tried my luck and used dd to make an image of the root partition into a file. Then I used the strings program to dump all printable strings in the partition image and, unbelievably enough, the password was there, not overwritten by the new data! WOW :) I had more luck than brains this time :)

As for SUSE, I'm running KDE now, and.. it's OK. Livable. Not bad. Portage broke down on my old gentoo installation and I finally got sick of it. Time to spend as little time managing my computer as possible.


Weekend in northern Sweden

I took a prolonged weekend (fri-mon; 30.11-03.12. 2007) in Northern Sweden; more accurately near the town of Piteå, visiting a friend. Actually, his house is on a nearby island that has only recently been connected to the mainlands with a road. The trip went (by plane) Oslo -> Stockholm -> Luleå (Kallax airbase) where he picked me up with a car. During those few days, we also visited some other places: Luleå, Kalix, and Haparanda/Tornio which lies on the border with Finland. (Haparanda is Swedish name, and Tornio is Finnish name.) You can see all of those places on the map. He bought some spirit drinks in Finland (the shop is named "Alko"), and I bought a bunch of Finnish salmiak/lakris candies. It was interesting to see people in Alko pushing FULL shopping carts of various drinks. Apparently, Haparanda has just recently gotten an IKEA shop, which has boosted the local economy. It is the nearest IKEA shop for that part of Sweden and Finland. Otherwise, it's been a very relaxing and interesting weekend, and they even got me to play bowling; the bowling hall was very nice for such a small town.

I was amazed by Swedish roads. Even though we were kinda in the middle of nowhere, the roads were in good shape (no holes or such) and very well cleansed - there was some snow/ice on them, but despite winter conditions it was possible to drive at speeds over 110 km/h (though with "piggdekk" - spiked tires). Norwegian roads are really bad compared to Swedish roads. (And I mean bad - even in Oslo you can find roads with holes at size of a football-ball in diameter.)

On the way back, I tried to take two cans of surstromming, but it was unfortunately taken by the security officer in Luleå. (BTW, he was really nice - told me that I should have checked that in, asked me whether I was coming back soon [he wanted to store it..]. It's rare to meet a nice security guy.. I guess that small towns have their advantages too :-)) BTW, there's also a technical university at Luleå.

Being far up north, near polar circle, I wanted to experience the "perpetual darkness". Well, it's not perpetual, but pretty close. So I have some pictures too. This picture is some kind of meeting place for young people in Piteå (the two arcs); the most interesting thing is that the picture has been taken ca. 15h.

This picture has been taken at the brightest time of day (though, cloudy one). It is a road that approaches the friend's house. It's a representative picture for most of the roads that we've been driving on.

The following picture shows the frozen sea. It's impressive. Later during the winter, the ice gets so thick that the easiest way to the town is to use a snow scooter and just cross the water.

This picture shows the entrance to the IKEA in Haparanda. I have taken it because the leftmost flag is that of the Sami people.
The last picture is mostly for amusement: it's an announcement in local newspapers that, due to maintenance of the electrrcal network, there will be a short power outage. But notice the time of day :)