Finally retiring my last legacy windows box!

Final transfer from an ancient windows

This particular ancient server has stood as the glue holding several ancient record keeping systems together.  Today marks the last day that it was operating.  I supported this computer for almost it’s entire lifespan.  This Dell ran consistently for over 10 years with very little trouble.  Now your watch is over.

I have been retiring or upgrading unsupported systems all year. it’s to know that all the critical systems are up to date.  Let this be yet another warning if you are running Windows XP, Vista, 7, or 2008 Server (or anything earlier), you should upgrade immediately if you are online in any capacity.  Same goes for macs older then 10.13 (High Sierra). Seriously, don’t let it become a problem.

Status update:

network infrastructure

Well, my day was canceled and my phone needs a rebuild, so it’s maintenance day! finally getting to some much needed upgrades That i have been putting off.  please excuse the dust and potential outages.

Open source artisanal iOS Jailbreak released using only grass fed locally sourced exploits.

Cydia - Package management system for Jailbroken iOS.

A long time in the works, this is the first completely open source jailbreak to be released for an almost current version of iOS (11-12.1.2).  This is an interesting jailbreak.  It is semi-tethered, but unlike previous jailbreaks, this can at least be untethered from the device itself.  Using Cydia Impactor, you can side load the unc0ver app and install the jailbreak directly from the app.  it also allow the easy rejailbreak upon reboot or battery drain. Great work all around despite the remaining bugs and instability (it is still beta. Huge thanks to the efforts of @pwn20wnd and @sbingner).  To be honest, there are very few tweaks and apps that are ready for iOS 12, but i am excited to see the tradition of jailbreaking continue.  I have cydia again!  For the first tine since I closed down my own cydia repo.  C’mon developers, do you thing!

iOS jailbreak 12 unc0ver iOS 12 jailbreak -Cydia on iPad Pro
In truth, i never got it going on my phone, only my iPad.  I get a crash on my phone immediately after this dialogue comes up.  It took a few passes to get a picture (this one extracted from a screen record).  Not sure exactly what went wrong, but “Unexported kernel task port” is my best clue.  With my phone cashing as soon as it becomes untethered, i am never actually able to run Cydia. On my iPad, instead of rebooting, it resprings.  either way, it is very hard to read the final message.

iPhoneX iOS 12 unc0ver jailbreak fail

UPDATE:  This problem was resolved in b38.

Just keep cobbling

Aerial AnimationI rebuilt my Mac Pro software completely and it appears to have resolved the idle hanging problem.  It is alway an annoying amount of work getting everything up and running again.  It’s nice to have everything fresh and clean and worth it to finally have a stable desktop.  The most frustrating part of this kind of solution is that nothing is learned.  How?  Why?  No answers, but at least an end to the frustration!

UPDATE!  – Nothing is resolved!  it just took over 48 hours for the problem to return. ?

Silver lining was my brief use of screensavers and discovering John Coats work to bring the beautiful Aerial flyovers from the Apple TV to all macs.  Looks amazing on 3 screens!

Update! – It’s finally fixed!

Sometimes I feel like the cobbler with no shoes

High Sierra InstallI upgraded my Mac Pro to High Sierra.  For the most part it was seamless.  The installer automatically migrated the HFS+ file system to AFPS and everything appeared to be working great.  As it turns out. . . I have a new intermittent problem that causes the computer to become unresponsive while idle.

It presents primarily as a failure to wake from sleep (backlit black screens instead).  Display sleep is actually all that is required to present and of course it is not every time.  It is often enough for me to return to the 90s habit of shutting down my computer after I finish using it lest I cause irreparable harm to my mounted file systems.  Here are some things i have discovered while trying to resolve.  Sometimes i can access the computer remotely, other times not, never graphically.  Sometimes the system hangs as soon as it goes idle, sometimes it continues to operate.  Sometimes it restarts from “sudo reboot” from an ssh session, other times it just hangs completely when i try.  The console logs are useless.  Nothing at all before the reboot.  When unresponsive, there is nothing to do but hold the power button.

The difficulty i am having at discovering the core of the issue combined with the fact that my remote backup has gotten stale is driving me crazy.  There seems to be people complaining about this on every Apple forum there is.  I am not alone:

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/8085995
https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/300199/mac-pro-on-high-sierra-doesnt-wake-up
https://www.reddit.com/r/MacOS/comments/73094p/mac_pro_2013_high_sierra_wont_wake…
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/high-sierra-causing-blank-screen-macpro.2073218/

UPDATE:  It’s finally fixed!

Modernizing a lifebook from 2003 with Lubuntu

Lubuntu 11.04 My doc was a bit confused about the age of this computer when he gave it to me to setup.  We spoke about a 5 year old laptop. It turned out to be a beast from 2003: a Lifebook n series by Fujitsu.  I’ve always said that Fujitsu must be run by a supervillain or at the very least, a rebel billionaire.  They make industrial equipment and infrastructure, while at the same time making laptops and other select home electronics.  Like someone just wanted their ideal laptop and then as an afterthought sold it as a product.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to disparage Fujitsu in any way.  Quite the opposite in fact.  I have relied on their hard drives for my most precious data and their Lifebooks have always been some of the best out there.  The fact that this 13+ year old laptop is operating with all original parts and a working battery is testament to Fujitsu’s commitment to quality.

My first clue was the XP sticker.  I decided to go with Lubuntu, a minimized variant on the popular Ubuntu Linux.  Ubuntu is a wonderful distribution, especially for those new to Linux, but it’s built on top of Debian, so it’s not just for beginners.  For years, I’ve used some of the older (still supported) Ubuntu versions for old machines.   I hate to see workin computers fail because of a lack of software support.  Thanks to the good people at Lubuntu, Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, this is a thing of the past. This guy is running all the latest in security and cryptographic technology, a fully modern web browser and a full suite of productivity software fully compatible with the latest MS Office.

 

End of an era! cydia.be3n.com shuttered after 7+ years!

In truth, I haven’t touched it in years.  I haven’t even touched cydia recently. Sadly, all this work would only be useful for someone with an original or 3g iPhone. Apple certainly doesn’t support those devices anymore.  Does anyone still use them?  Unfortunately, my ISP insists that I remove the content.  After 7 years of hosting it, they realized it violates TOS.  I should check the logs.  I wonder if it will even be missed.  People say the internet never forgets.  Sometimes it is quite the opposite. For nostalgias sake, I left the instructions site up: http://cydia.be3n.com/ (at least that does’t violate Dreamhost TOS).  For the record, much of my work continued support well into iOS 4.

cydia.be3n.com site

. . . Maybe it will rise again on S3?

Apple is getting between me and my TRIM!

At the device level, SSD drives function entirely differently then conventional mechanical disks.  As a result, the way that operating systems traditionally use these devices lead to progressive performance degradation and even shortened lifespan.  Technology was needed to offset this failing.  Enter TRIM.  Apple introduced it in 2011, but believe it or not, even today, Apple refuses to automatically enable TRIM for 3rd party SSD drives.  Not only that, but if you manually enable it yourself, it is then disabled during any OS upgrade (i.e. 10.9.1-10.9.3).  You can check your TRIM status from the System Profiler/System Information under SATA by selecting your device.  I switched my favorite utility from Chameleon SSD Optimizer to Trim Enabler.  I made the change for two reasons.  First, Chameleon has some compatibility issues.  Second, Trim Enabler has a feature to check on startup.  Makes it easier to reenable after a software update.

I found a great utility to enable TRIM on 10.6.8-10.9.5: Trim Enabler
Don’t forget to reenable it after each OS X System Update.

Technical Details from Wikipedia:

Because of the way that file systems typically handle delete operations, storage media (SSDs, but also traditional hard drives) generally do not know which sectors/pages are truly in use and which can be considered free space. Delete operations are typically limited to flagging data blocks as “not in use” in the file system.[6][7] Contrary to, for example, an overwrite operation, a delete will therefore not involve a physical write to the sectors that contain the data. Since a common SSD has no knowledge of the file system structures, including the list of unused blocks/sectors, the storage medium remains unaware that the blocks have become available. While this often enables undelete tools to recover files from traditional hard disks,[7][8] despite the files being reported as “deleted” by the operating system, it also means that when the operating system later performs a write operation to one of the sectors, which it considers free space, it effectively becomes an overwrite operation from the point of view of the storage medium. For traditional hard disks, this is no different from writing an empty sector, but because of how some SSDs function at the lowest level, an overwrite produces significant overhead compared to writing data into an empty page, potentially crippling write performance.[7][9]

SSDs store data in flash memory cells that are grouped into pages, with the pages (typically 4 to 16 kB each) grouped together into blocks (typically 128 to 512 pages per block, e.g. totaling 512 kB per block in case of the 4/128 combination).[6][10] NAND flash memory cells can only be directly written to when they are empty. If they are considered to contain data, the contents first need to be erased before a write operation can be performed reliably. In SSDs, a write operation can be done on the page-level, but due to hardware limitations, erase commands always affect entire blocks.[10] As a result, writing data to SSD media is very fast as long as empty pages can be used, but slows down considerably once previously written pages need to be overwritten. Since an erase of the cells in the page is needed before it can be written again, but only entire blocks can be erased, an overwrite will initiate a read-erase-modify-write cycle:[6][11] the contents of the entire block have to be stored in cache before it is effectively erased on the flash medium, then the overwritten page is modified in the cache so the cached block is up to date, and only then is the entire block (with updated page) written to the flash medium. This phenomenon is known as write amplification.[12][13]