Update 20100130: Musical Hard Drives, NetBSD, Scientific Linux

I’d alluded last weekend that I’d installed NetBSD on a spare hard drive in my new workstation. That drive was the last (I think) OpenBSD 4.3 install I had before I had to go care for family in 2008. Hard to remember anymore, I only know that when I ran last it showed my last reboot was a couple days after I returned last year. Anyway, I’d already installed Scientific Linux 5.4 on another spare hard drive I put in the workstation and set up separate partitions on it. My only nitpick about SL’s installer on the live CD version is that it doesn’t allow many options as far as partitioning or filesystems but that’s not a big deal to set up afterward. (Note: the full install/net install CDs use anaconda.)

I switched drives around so my old OpenBSD 4.3 one would be master. Once I logged in (after finally remembering my root password and changing my user password), I looked around and saw a few things I wanted to make sure I backed up before using that drive for something else. I added entries to my fstab for the other drive so I could copy them to my user account on it (that drive is eventually going into another computer; sorry about image quality but I didn’t have the computer networked when I set up).

I recently said some unkind things about the reviewer of a NetBSD-based live CD on a certain website because he complained that it didn’t automatically mount things for him. The BSDs — excluding possibly desktop-oriented projects based on any of the BSDs — don’t enable such things by default. I also recall in a simulated install of KDE packages one time that directions flew up my screen about enabling various daemons to get it all working if so desired. It’s just a different perspective on things. The BSDs are true to their Unix roots, and Linux distros by and large are true to their “GNU’s Not Unix” (heavy emphasis on “not”) roots. Let me be a little more constructive than I was at that website and show how easy this stuff is (especially if you bother to read the documentation).

I installed NetBSD from CD. The installation took a few minutes. Granted, it’s not like installing the average Linux distro — it doesn’t have a graphical installer, it doesn’t have all kinds of apps to install. It’s pretty basic, but you add what you want on top of it instead of whatever some developer decides to include. It’s fast, it’s easy (RTM), painless. It takes a bit of time to configure and set up but it’s a blank slate and you’ll know exactly what’s going on because you’re the one turning all the stuff on that you want to be on.

I wanted to get my files I copied over to the SL54 drive from the OpenBSD install so I decided to set up /etc/fstab to include my SL54 drive. The first command I ran was dmesg | grep wd1 to make sure the drive was detected as wd1 (the next step would tell you the same thing but I usually look at dmesg first). Then I did disklabel wd1 to get information (man disklabel if you want specific options) about the partitions on that drive.

Once I had that, I could edit fstab accordingly and/or mount the partition I need. In this case, the partitions I wanted were g and i and I needed to make directories (mkdir /mnt/wd1{g,i}) for them and then mount them. Then I was able to get my stuff I’d copied from my old OpenBSD install as well as the few things I’ve had time to get on the other SL54 drive. Hardly a hassle.

I haven’t had time to do anything else with that drive (meaning with NetBSD) yet because things are hectic with family and work. Funny how that works out sometimes — get a new computer, fiddle around with a couple of hard drives, and then have to get back to them in a week or two or three (I’ve only been using SL54 on it). For what it’s worth, I’m very pleased with Scientific Linux 5.4, which is compiled from RHEL5 sources. I’ll write a review of it soon — and probably before I get back to setting up NetBSD.

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