Saturday, July 11, 2009

Constrained disk space, whoops, patents

So I'm setting up a Linux instance under Qemu (actually, under Kju). I want the whole root filesystem to fit in a 2GB-or-smaller qcow file, so the image can be easily carried around on a FAT32-formatted USB flash drive. (NTFS isn't universally available, nor is my preferred HFS+.) I know there are other ways to do this (I could go up to 4GB on a FAT32 volume, or have multiple volumes and use LVM, or...), but consider this a bored geek's exercise in -- filesystem economy? (Man, I remember when a 2GB drive was huge, we figured we'd never need any more space on our Univel UnixWare box (a 486DX2/66 with 32MB RAM and 32 serial ports courtesy an ISA Digi DigiBoard C/X and a pair of DigiCon/16 RJ45 serial port boxes, serving up terminal access to a hundred or so students and faculty)...)

Anyway, getting a modern distribution shoehorned into that space is an exercise in frustration. Even 9.04 Xubuntu won't fit! I went back to Fedora Core 9 and did a completely bare-bones install, customized package load with all packages de-selected (including everything in Base). Whoops. Didn't realize how completely cut off that would leave that instance. Solution: Setup a small (100MB) qcow filesystem under a Windows instance as a FAT32 volume and manually copy some RPMs (ftp, lynx, etc) from a Fedora Core 9 mirror. Shutdown the Windows instance and connect the FAT32 volume to the Linux machine, boot it, and mount the FAT32 volume under /mnt, using `rpm -ivh` to manually install the RPM files.

The things we do when we're bored (and putting off reading the Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment of Invalidity of '427 Patent in Dealertrack v. Huber et al., CV 06-2335 AG (C.D. Cal., July 7, 2009) (use your PACER login), which evidently applies In Re Bilski (wow, that list of amici reads like the plaintiff list in a Jonathon Lee Riches complaint!) to invalidate a software patent...

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