Formatting disks and clearing RAID config on Power systems with iprutils

I recently put some spare disks into a Power S814 server, and when I tried installing an OS, be it VIOS or Debian, it would say that there were no disks available to install onto.

It turns out that the RAID configuration on the controller and the disks didn’t match. This is par for the course with any RAID controller, even in the x86 world. It also didn’t help that some of the disks were formatted for IBM i, which uses non-512-byte block disks. We need to use the vendor utility to clear out the RAID config, and format the disks to be usable by commodity operating systems.

The two utilities IBM provides for this are either the diagnostics on the AIX Standalone Diagnostics disc, or using the iprutils set of software. Since netbooting Linux was easier as I don’t have a NIM server, I’m choosing to do the latter here.

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Netbooting Alpine Linux on a PowerVM system

I had a need to run a utility that requires Linux (specifically, iprutils to configure a RAID card) onto a Power S814 that I had installed at a datacentre, and no remote hands to boot a CD with. However, there’s not much information documented on how to boot Linux on these systems from a network. This article aims to synthesize what I’ve found online, since information about IBM Power systems tends to be scant outside of IBM documentation..

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Sleeping through a decade of Cocoa: Retrospective from modernizing an old Mac app

A few years ago since I started using Macs more often, one annoying thing I dealt with was using my local music library. My usual solution was to just drag files from the file manager to a music player, but this wasn’t as nice on macOS (due to i.e. SMB latency). However, I did have a Subsonic server, which provides a nice music streaming server, complete with an API for clients to use for things like phones. Why not use this on my laptop too?

Of course, if I bought a Mac, I’m not going to put up with bad cross-platform solutions that suck everywhere, when I can instead run bad native software that sucks uniquely for my platform of choice. However, there weren’t too many clients available on Mac. Mostly all of them were unmaintained and had been abandoned in the Snow Leopard era. One of them was Submariner, and it was open-source after the developer (RafaĆ«l Warnault) had stopped working on it. Writing my own seemed a bit daunting with no background, but what if I used the Submariner codebase, and started from there?

Now I’ve been maintaining Submariner for almost two years at this point (it even has a minimal website), adding features and mostly just focusing on modernizing the codebase. It’s been an interesting experience as my first Objective-C/Mac project. A lot of the lessons of modernizing legacy code are universally applicable, but I’ve learned a lot about the specifics of Apple platforms and how they compare. This article aims to be both a retrospective on what I had to learn, what I had to do, and the lessons I took from it, including a comparison of what the development culture is like between platforms.

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Fixing Returnal hanging at a black screen

I’ve been enjoying Returnal recently, but I’ve had a ton of technical issues with it. Half the time when starting the game, or performing certain actions, it would just hang at a black screen. Sometimes, the game would be still running and updating the system resource monitoring, but be completely unresponsive.

Turns out if you’re running Windows 10 LTSC, you lack the VP9 codec, which the cutscenes are in. The black screen is because it can’t play the cutscene properly. (Any bits about DX11/DX12 seem to be red herrings.) The VP9 codec is on the Windows Store, but since you don’t have that in LTSC, you can install it via other means. For example, this dump in the Internet Archive contains the codecs you’re looking for; install them, and after a reboot, things should work again.