on the edge

computers & technology, books & writing, civilisation & society, cars & stuff

Greg Black

gjb at gbch dot net
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If you’re not living life on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.

FQE30 at speed


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Worthy organisations

Amnesty International Australia — global defenders of human rights

global defenders of human rights

Médecins Sans Frontières — help us save lives around the world

Médecins Sans Frontières - help us save lives around the world

Electronic Frontiers Australia — protecting and promoting on-line civil liberties in Australia

Electronic Frontiers Australia


(Coming soon…)


(Coming soon…)


(Coming soon…)

Software resources

GNU Emacs


The FreeBSD Project

Fri, 25 Feb 2005

USB problem solved

Back in August, I wrote about problems I was having with a USB mouse. Since then, I’ve identified issues with any USB devices I’ve tried in that box. Recently, I installed FreeBSD-5.3 on another similar box and—on a whim—decided to try the “problem” mouse, and it just worked. Subsequently, I tried some other USB devices in that box and they also just worked. So I formed a tentative hypothesis that the USB support on FreeBSD-4.10 was less reliable than under 5.3.

A couple of days back, this was put to the test as I began building my new workstation, based on the motherboard discussed above. To get it running, I stole the FreeBSD boot disk from the machine where the USB stuff worked, confidently expecting success. Initially, the mouse appeared to work, but various things went wrong once I accessed the SCSI controller. This was followed by many frustrating hours over the next day and a half where I tried many combinations of hardware and BIOS settings, all to no avail.

I was also busily boring the #humbug IRC channel with my whining and eventually the suggestion was made that I should try upgrading the BIOS. This had not occurred to me at all, as the working motherboard was a slightly older version of the same thing with a slightly older BIOS—however, I finally took the plunge and upgraded the BIOS and was immediately rewarded with a working system. Why Asus had to break their BIOS on a later board is unclear to me, but the whole experience reminded me how much I hate PC hardware and everything connected with it.

At least I can now get on with my grandiose scheme of setting the machine up so that all the real things I was planning can start to get done.