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Our experts answer your technical questions.
PowerPC Motherboard?

My brother and I would like to build a PowerPC Linux computer. Do you have ideas on where we can get a motherboard to build a PPC machine? As far as PPC Linux distros, we have found Yellow Dog, Mandrake, SuSE, Rock, Holon, Debian, Vine and Gentoo. So there are a few Linux distros out there for the PPC.

—Rick Killingsworth, iamrlk@yahoo.com

Linux Journal just got a chance to play with a PowerPC ATX motherboard www.terrasoftsolutions.com/products/boxer. Check our next issue for our first look.

—Don Marti, dmarti@ssc.com

These links may be of interest to you and your brother; they contain info about Linux on PPC-based machines and compatible hardware: lppcfom.sourceforge.net and linuxppc64.org. This link is related to IBM 64-bit PPC hardware www.openppc.org, and this one talks about the open PPC architecture and includes some board diagrams/plans.

—Felipe E. Barousse Boué, fbarousse@piensa.com

Management without Monitor and Keyboard

I have been looking for x86-based servers (rackmount) with “lights-out management” abilities. I currently have several Sun V100 systems with this capability, but I'm forced to use Solaris. I've been able to get headless systems set up effectively using port redirection to a serial interface, but that doesn't fix the problem of an OS crash or a server that is hung and needs a power reset or to refresh the OS remotely.

—Ron Culler, ron@firelan.net

You need a hardware management card. Many of the major Intel architecture server vendors, including Dell, HP and IBM offer these cards as options on their servers. Essentially, these cards are similar to console redirection to the serial port, except they also allow you to do other things, such as remotely rebooting or completely turning off the server. Some of these cards even have network ports to do away with serial-based communications.

—Chad Robinson, crobinson@rfgonline.com

Some motherboards like the Intel 440GX have a second serial port that can be used for out-of-band management as you mention (hardware monitoring, reset and power cycle), and of course, you can also get BIOS redirection on the other port. To control the EMP (emergency management port), you can use VACM on Linux, vacm.sf.net.

—Marc Merlin, marc_bts@google.com

Middle Digital, Inc. makes ISA and PCI cards that give headless management functionality to most PC-architecture systems. Telnet to demo.realweasel.com for a live demo, or search the Linux Journal web site for “weasel”.

—Don Marti dmarti@ssc.com

Which GUI Toolkit?

I am making a program for running lab experiments and examining data, using arbitrarily long command strings with RPN-style syntax. Command recall and editing features, such as those provided by readline, are essential, and the program has to run on a graphics screen. I am leaning toward using svgalib because that will ease the transition from my DOS version and give greater efficiency in graph drawing, but I will consider other implementations. Can you give me some general ideas about how to get my command-line function?

—Bill McConnaughey, mcconnau@biochem.wustl.edu

Depending on which look and language you're most comfortable with, you're probably going to be best off with a modern GUI toolkit such as GTK+ or Qt. There is more code you're going to be able to borrow there. Also, it's going to be easier in the long run, as displays get bigger, if you ever want to be able to run your program and another program on the same screen at the same time. For example, Ricardo Fernández Pascual has written interesting-looking autocompletion functionality for the GtkEntry widget. His project is called EggEntry and looks general enough to support entering complex commands. See www.geocrawler.com/mail/msg.php3?msg_id=9808742&list=521.

—Don Marti dmarti@ssc.com

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