OpenBSD framebuffer console and custom color palettes

On framebuffer consoles, OpenBSD uses the rasops(9) subsystem, which was imported from NetBSD in March 2001. The RGB values for the ANSI color palette in rasops have been chosen to match the ones in Open Firmware, and are different from those in the VGA text mode color palette. Rasops palette: VGA text mode palette: As one can see, the difference is quite significant, and decades of exposure to MS-DOS and Linux consoles makes it quite difficult to adapt to a different palette....

June 6, 2020 · 1 min

OpenBSD/armv7 on the CubieBoard2

I bought the CubieBoard2 back in 2016 with the idea to run OpenBSD on it, but because of various reliability issues with the onboard NIC, it ended up running NetBSD for a few weeks before ending up in a drawer. Back in October, Mark Kettenis committed code to allow switching to the framebuffer “glass” console in the bootloader on OpenBSD/armv7, making it possible to install the system without using a serial cable....

May 27, 2020 · 4 min

Chinese BBSes and Unicode ANSi Art

After doing my series on Taiwanese BBSes (first part, second part), I also took some screenshots from two Chinese BBS systems, but only found those files again recently. Those screens were captured in March 2013 and cover Lilac and NewSMTH systems. While I could not find much English information about Lilac, which seems to be located in Hong Kong, there is a Wikipedia page about SMTH which appears to have had a complicated history....

April 14, 2020 · 1 min

My OpenBSD commits

Today marks my three year anniversary as an OpenBSD developer. I got my commit bit on August 31th 2016 during the g2k16 hackathon in Cambridge, UK. A few months ago, I came across a Perl one-liner script to produce commit time distribution ASCII graphs from a Git repository, and I finally have a good pretext to run it :-) As of this day, I have done 749 commits to OpenBSD, in the following repositories: src (127), ports(596), www (24), and xenocara (2)....

August 31, 2019 · 3 min

Fuzzing DNS zone parsers

In my never-ending quest to improve the quality of my C codebases, I’ve been using AFL to fuzz statzone, the zone parser I use to generate monthly statistics on StatDNS. It helped me to find and fix a NULL pointer dereference. I initially used the .arpa zone file as input, but then remembered that OpenDNSSEC bundles a special zone for testing purposes, containing a lot of seldom used resource records types, and decided to use this one too....

July 11, 2019 · 5 min

Running a free public API, a post-mortem

It’s been a little bit more than three years since Telize public API was permanently shut down on November 15th, 2015. I have previously written about the adventure itself, and about the decommissioning of the API. Before shutting down the public API of Telize, a paid version was launched on Mashape to ease the transition for those who couldn’t host their own instances. The Mashape API Marketplace became a part of RapidAPI last year, the service is still running and will keep doing so for the foreseeable future....

November 30, 2018 · 4 min

OpenBSD/arm64 on the NanoPi NEO2

I bought the NanoPi NEO2 solely for it’s form-factor, and I haven’t been disappointed. It’s a cute little board (40*40mm), which is to the best of my knowledge the smallest possible device one can run OpenBSD on. The CPU is a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 which is quite capable, a GENERIC.MP kernel build taking 15 minutes. On the downside, the board only has 512MB of RAM. An USB to TTL serial cable is required to connect to the board and perform installation....

November 13, 2018 · 3 min

Spleen - Monospaced bitmap fonts

Spleen started as a personal challenge. Patrick Wildt (patrick@) recently imported ssdfb(4), a driver for small OLED displays in OpenBSD and needed a 5x8 font to be able to squeeze more columns and rows on those devices. As someone spending most of his time in a terminal, I have been thinking about drawing my own font for a while, and this was the perfect opportunity. To be able to test character spacing and alignment, I started to use the font in xterm, then a zoomed version, and one thing leading to another, I started creating a 8x16 version, and then bigger versions based on it....

September 19, 2018 · 2 min

The future of VIA x86 processors

I’ve been interested in VIA motherboards and CPUs ever since they came up with the Mini-ITX standard in the very early 2000s. Their approach of bringing fanless and power-efficient designs to the x86 market was groundbreaking at the time. VIA processors are designed by Centaur Technology, and there is an excellent documentary entitled “Rise of the Centaur” retracing their history, which I really enjoyed watching. It’s unfortunately very difficult to find information about recent VIA x86 CPUs....

July 30, 2018 · 2 min

Oldest domains in the .com, .net, and .org TLDs

As someone interested in DNS and Internet history, I’ve always been enjoying facts and articles about early registered domain names. Wikipedia has a page on the subject, but the list is extremely short for .net and .org domains. Using the DDN NIC domain summaries, it shouldn’t be too difficult to extract a list of domains, perform whois queries to get registration dates, and sort the results. Let’s find out. For the record, the oldest issue I could find, dating from December 1987, doesn’t list nordu....

June 26, 2018 · 6 min