Procrastinating again. This is a few weeks after fact at this point, so I expect details will be sparse.

I finally got a router to connect my two computers. It has wireless, but I leave it off most of the time – I’m usually working the same room, and the radiation effects are still somewhat up in the air. (Of course, so many of my neighbors have wireless it’s probably a moot point.) I also got the Wii online briefly, but it’s also off most of the time.

But beyond not needing to swap the internet cable back and forth, I can do local networking now. Only after much difficulty, of course. At some level they are both follow the UNIX tradition, but I had to figure out how OS X presented things. During that processes I discovered that Apple, quite unaccountably, ships their computers with the firewall disabled.

On the other end, I was trying to figure out just what I had done to my Linux PC back when I was directly on the internet via dialup; I ran through several hardening tools after observing an attack in progress. Hopefully I won’t have to switch from LAN to WAN because reconfiguring things a bit of pain.

The Mac isn’t much better off – the the firewall and other settings are independent of the ‘location’. The location setting lets me switch off polling my router’s DNS when I’m away, but otherwise it doesn’t control very much.

I eventually figured out that the router could be tricked into acting as a DNS server by specifying a client ID in each machine’s DHCP settings. It is then necessary to explicitly specify the router as a DNS server – it won’t accept itself in the configuration settings.

With that working, I set about reworking my files a bit for synchronization. I got Unison set up and it is working fairly well now. It requires the same version on both ends, and I didn’t want to deal with trying get the latest one running on my one-generation-old Debian system (which probably doesn’t have enough disk space to be upgraded), so I had to track down an older version for OS X.

Most of my basic tasks are running on the Mac now, with a few issues. In particular, while I got both Gimp and Ghostscript running, they require incompatible versions of X-windows – I have to move a system folder when switching between them. WML and Sitecopy are running. I spent a while doing load/save-as on my spreadsheets – sadly XLS was the most obvious common format. I found a semi-automated way to convert WYSIWYG documents – Abiword can run in command line mode. I’d been using Abiword/Gnumeric on Linux because they load faster than OpenOffice; but sometimes needed it for Word docs because the formatting was closer. I decided just to work with NeoOffice, at least for now, loading times notwithstanding.

I’ve got ‘mostly compatible’ e-mail. I’d been using KMail on Linux, which defaults to MailDir storage – apparently an uncommon format for most other client programs. I eventually got a system set up with fetchmail and dovecot; though I haven’t worked it very hard yet. There may still be a few issues with the filename flags they use.

The main things on the PC now are printing (networked), scanning, and remote backup. I’d either have change backup systems do some more work with rsyncrypto (it decrypts fine, but needs a gzip patch to compress data.)

Posted Saturday, December 22nd, 2007 under War Story.

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