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August 2019

OpenBSD on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen)

posted to writings on aug 14th, 2019 with tags hardware, laptops, openbsd, and thinkpad and commented on seven times

Another year, another ThinkPad X1 Carbon, this time with a Dolby Atmos sound system and a smaller battery.

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May 2019

Cidco MailStation as a Z80 Development Platform

posted to writings on may 3rd, 2019 with tags hardware, retro, and z80 and commented on four times

The Cidco MailStation is a series of dedicated e-mail terminals sold in the 2000s as simple, standalone devices for people to use to send and receive e-mail over dialup modem. While their POP3 e-mail functionality is of little use today, the hardware is a neat Z80 development platform that integrates a 320x128 LCD, full QWERTY keyboard, and an internal modem.

After purchasing one (ok, four) on eBay some months ago, I've learned enough about the platform to write my own software that allows it to be a terminal for accessing BBSes via its modem or as a terminal for a Unix machine connected over parallel cable.

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March 2018

Dolch PAC 64

posted to writings on mar 20th, 2018 with tags hardware and retro

The Dolch PAC 64 is a portable, rugged Pentium-powered PC from the mid 1990s. It was usually used (and can usually be found on eBay) as a "portable network sniffer" complete with multiple network cards supporting multiple media types.

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September 2017

OpenBSD on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (5th Gen)

posted to writings on sep 1st, 2017 with tags hardware, laptops, openbsd, and thinkpad, last updated on sep 4th, 2017

ThinkPads have sort of a cult following among OpenBSD developers and users because the hardware is basic and well supported, and the keyboards are great to type on. While no stranger to ThinkPads myself, most of my OpenBSD laptops in recent years have been from various vendors with brand new hardware components that OpenBSD does not yet support. As satisfying as it is to write new kernel drivers or extend existing ones to make that hardware work, it usually leaves me with a laptop that doesn't work very well for a period of months.

After exhausting efforts trying to debug the I2C touchpad interrupts on the Huawei MateBook X (and other 100-Series Intel chipset laptops), I decided to take a break and use something with better OpenBSD support out of the box: the fifth generation Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

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July 2017

OpenBSD on the Huawei MateBook X

posted to writings on jul 14th, 2017 with tags hardware, laptops, and openbsd, last updated on mar 24th, 2019

The Huawei MateBook X is a high-quality 13" ultra-thin laptop with a fanless Core i5 processor. It is obviously biting the design of the Apple 12" MacBook, but it does have some notable improvements such as a slightly larger screen, a more usable keyboard with adequate key travel, and 2 USB-C ports.

It also uses more standard PC components than the MacBook, such as a PS/2-connected keyboard, Intel WiFi card, etc., so its OpenBSD compatibility is quite good.

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June 2017

WiFi232 with a Macintosh 512ke

posted to writings on jun 23rd, 2017 with tags hardware, mac, and retro, last updated on jun 18th, 2017

Back in 2015, I created a BBS for Lobsters that worked in a web browser via WebSockets. After getting an old Mac earlier this year, I wanted a way to access the BBS from the Mac as natively as I could. Adding telnet and SSH frontends to the BBS was not too difficult, but being able to login from my Mac took a bit of work.

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May 2017

OpenBSD on the Xiaomi Mi Air 12.5"

posted to writings on may 22nd, 2017 with tags hardware, laptops, and openbsd, last updated on may 14th, 2017

The Xiaomi Mi Air 12.5" is a basic fanless 12.5" Ultrabook with good build quality and decent hardware specs, especially for the money; while it can usually be had for about $600, I purchased mine for $489 shipped to the US during a sale.

Note that the current models being sold have a 7th generation (Kaby Lake) processor, so OpenBSD compatibility will be different.

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January 2017

OpenBSD (not) on the Surface Pro 4

posted to writings on jan 2nd, 2017 with tags hardware, laptops, and openbsd, last updated on dec 30th, 2016

I recently had access to a Surface Pro 4 and tried to boot OpenBSD on it. It did not go well, so I am just putting this here for posterity.

The 2016 Surface Pro 4 is basically just a keyboard-less x86 (Core i5 on the model I had) tablet with some tightly integrated (read: not upgradeable) components. Its optional Surface Type Cover is just a USB-attached keyboard and trackpad, which magnetically secure to the bottom of the device.

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November 2016

The 2016 MacBook Pro

posted to writings on nov 8th, 2016 with tags apple, hardware, laptops, and mac, last updated on nov 3rd, 2016

I've been using an 11" MacBook Air as my primary computer for six years. It's a great computer that satisfied a lot of requirements I had for a laptop: thin, lightweight, small form factor, excellent keyboard and touchpad, mostly silent, but not an Atom or Core M processor.

I've done a lot on this little computer, like compiling and maintaining an Android ROM, writing the Rails, iOS, and Android apps for Pushover, creating Lobsters, recording and editing 40 episodes of Garbage, and lots of OpenBSD development.

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