Minesweeper is murder. An activist group is asserting that the Windows game Minesweeper is disrespectful of victims of land mines and should be removed and replaced with a game about flowers. I have no idea if these guys are serious or not. I never liked the game anyway and just always wanted an excuse to say “Minesweeper is murder.” So now I’ve said it three times. I’m happy.
Mail servers. I started building my mail server last night. I spied an old Adaptec 1542C adapter on a coworker’s shelf and asked if I could borrow it. Then, on the way home, I remembered that Laclede Computer Trading Company, a local used computer store, had opened up a branch (actually it turned out they moved) a few miles from where I live. So I stopped there and picked up an Adaptec 1542CF (1994 vintage) and a clackety IBM PS/2 keyboard.

I got home, installed the 1542CF, and had problems. I installed the 1542C and did better. It turned out my DEC Etherworks 3 NIC was conflicting with the 1542CF. That may have been the problem with the other adapters I tried. The important thing is, I got TurboLinux down and it runs decently on my Frankensteined 486.

Incidentally, this is the ultimate Frankenstein box. I had an old IBM PS/1 486SX/20 in a 5-bay case. That motherboard’s been flaky for years. Meanwhile I’ve got this Compaq 486SX2/66 in working order whose case uses those awful Compaq drive rails, the case is ugly as sin, and it only has three bays. So I ripped out the PS/1 board and dropped in the Compaq board. Yes, it fits great. LPX is LPX–truly proprietary motherboards actually are really rare. Old Compaq 386s did it, some mid-90s Compaq midtowers did it, and IBM PS/2s did it, but normally what appears to be proprietary is really LPX. Anyway… I added a DEC Etherworks 3 NIC. So we’ve got IBM, DEC, and Compaq fraternizing. Then I connected an NEC 12X SCSI CD-ROM to the Adaptec card and installed TurboLinux.

It smokes. Well, as much as a 486 can smoke at least. It’s surprisingly quick. TurboLinux boots in 60 seconds, once the PC finishes with POST and scanning all the SCSI ports.

And what can I do with a mail server? Well, for one, I can run a cool package called MHonArc. What’s that do? It archives e-mail in HTML form. I could create a mail account, CC it on all my correspondence I want to post, set up a daily cron job on that account, and it’ll post all my mail to the Web for me, formatted nicely and threaded and sorted by the month and even using a template so I can keep my unified look. That’ll save me a ton of work.

Learning Unix takes time, but man can it ever pay off in the time and effort it saves you.

The only problem is, this system’s got a flaky Western Digital hard drive in it. I’ll probably replace it with a better quality drive in pretty short order. This’ll be fine for messing around with, but when a Western Digital drive failed on me 600 miles from home last July during a convention, I decided on the spot I’d depended on a Western Digital drive for the last time. It hadn’t been the first time a WD had let me down, but I wanted it to be the last.