Defrocked mathematician, now working as a computer scientist in the area of distributed computing and semantic web. Linux hacker. Administrator of UK Linux User Groups server. Amateur tenor. Fond of Real Ale and Real Food (and surreal food).

The fable of the land of btrfs, and the gnarly old boot

Once upon a time, there was a magical kingdom called btrfs, with many CoWs in it. In this kingdom was a castle, called Castle Carfax. One of the most important people living in Castle Carfax was called Amelia, and in the castle she kept eight circles of adamant. These hard disks, as they were called, held all the important knowledge of the castle.

Anyone fancy a quick rubber?

Last night, I went down to Cow Lane, not far from where I live, to see the first phase of the new rail bridges put in place. Railtrack are spending £850m on upgrading the station and tracks around Reading over the next few years, including two new platforms at the station itself, new lines, and an overhead section so that freight trains can bypass the station without getting in the way of the passenger services. As part of this, they're widening the two bridges on Cow Lane to the west of the town, which have always been a major bottleneck on that road.

Insert Knob A in Hole B

On Tuesday, I took delivery of the first set of parts for my RepRap from the local user group. I manfully held off from doing anything with it until today, when I settled down and built the frame. Sadly, the group wasn't able to print all of the frame parts that they'd intended to do, so it's a bit basic right now, but at least I know how much space it'll take up on my amusingly-titled "workbench".

btrfs-gui v0.2.1

Changes since v0.2:

  • Now searches for the btrfs-gui-helper binary in the most obvious places for it (reported by Fajar A. Nugraha)

Download btrfs-gui-v0.2.1.tar.gz

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Announcing btrfs-gui

Here's the email I sent to the btrfs mailing list a few moments ago:

Over the last few weeks, I've been playing with a foolish idea, mostly triggered by a cluster of people being confused by btrfs's free space reporting (df vs btrfs fi df vs btrfs fi show). I also wanted an excuse, and some code, to mess around in the depths of the FS data structures.

btrfs-gui v0.2

Version 0.2 boasts:

  • Subvolume management
    • Creation
    • Deletion
    • Snapshotting
    • Selection of default
  • Many usability and user-interface improvements
  • Improved error checking and reporting
  • Packaging and an installer

Download btrfs-gui-v0.2.tar.gz

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Proof-of-concept release.

  • Usage display
  • Subvolumes list
  • Basic makefile for packaging, to make distribution tarballs

No support for installation yet -- just run direct from the source directory.


Download btrfs-gui-v0.1.tar.gz

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You are both a unique and precious snowflake

I've just got my hands on another arts and humanities data set. This one's smaller than most of the others I've been looking at, and it's been put together in an MS Access application. Fortunately, the owners are aware that that's not a maintainable approach, and want a method of publishing it on the Web. Also, rather nicely, they've been aware of a number of data issues, such as regularisation of text fields: they've partially normalised the data, and effectively have a good ontology for their data.

Sadly, it's not all rosy:

Wall of Fire

One of the major problems with building a distributed system is that it's distributed. This means that the parts of the system need to talk to each other. Of course, these days, networks are viewed by most large network operators (e.g. universities) as hostile environments, where anything even remotely risky is split out, preferably into its own little subnet.