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Extreme makeover: Sparcstation IPC edition

The Sparcstation IPC that I owned since around 1995 died. It sat in a cupboard for 15 years, so it may have been dead for a long time already. Upon trying to power it on, it did absolutely nothing. I knew about early mini-ITX mods using the IPC/IPX case, like this one from 2002: , but nostalgia of being able to boot Linux/Sparc on this IPC kept me from doing my own mod. With the original hardware dead (probably just the PSU actually), this changed everything. A bit of research showed other Sparcstation mini-ITX mods, some with larger sparc4/5/10/20 cases (e.g. ), and one very interesting mod of an IPC: . Michael used an industrial Commell LV-671 motherboard. Commell went through more than 30 variants of that board in the meantime, and has just released an updated Tiger Lake version: the LV-6712 carrying the Intel i7-1185G7E . It's a
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Programming Micro:bit remotely

The Micro:bit track of our local Coderdojo went virtual during a COVID-19 peak. This created a challenge: not all kids have Micro:bits at home, and the makecode Micro:bit simulator doesn't simulate all extensions and functions. We provided an e-mail gateway to remotely program Micro:bits, with a live webcam view of the running programs. Our solution runs on a Linux machine, which could be a regular PC or even a Raspberry Pi. Please make sure your Linux box can power the Micro:bits and the extensions you connect, or otherwise use a powered USB hub to connect them. Create a mailbox  We created a dedicated mailbox that is accessible via IMAP or POP3. In our case, we used a local mailserver, but an account at an external e-mail provider could be used as well.  Install fetchmail and procmail  Fetchmail can poll an IMAP or POP3 mailbox and save the fetched mails locally. Local delivery is done via procmail. Our fetchmail config is #### .fetchmailrc   set daemon 60   set logfi

Which vSphere version is my VM running on?

Several years ago, I created a list of ESXi versions with matching VM BIOS identifiers. The list is now complete up to vSphere 7. Your Linux runs on a VMware VM, but on which ESXi version? Even without access to the host nor vCenter, you can see for yourself: run "dmidecode" and look at lines 10, 11 and 12. The BIOS release date, the address and the size are unique for each ESXi version. Look up your result in the following table: ESXi version   BIOS release date   Address   Size ESX 2.5 04/21/2004 0xE8480 97152 bytes ESX 3.0 04/17/2006 0xE7C70 99216 bytes ESX 3.5 01/30/2008 0xE7910 100080 bytes ESX 4 08/15/2008 0xEA6C0 88384 bytes ESX 4U1 09/22/2009 0xEA550 88752 bytes ESX 4.1 10/13/2009 0xEA2E0 89376 bytes ESXi 5 01/07/2011 0xE72C0 101696 bytes ESXi 5.1 06/22/2012 0xEA0C0 89920 bytes ESXi 5.5 07/30/2013 0xEA050 90032 bytes ESXi 6 09/30/2014 0xE9A40 91584 bytes ESXi 6.5 04/05/2016 0xEA580 88704 bytes ESXi 6.7 07/03/2018 0xEA520 88800

Reset lost root password on vSphere ESXi 6.7

VMware's solution to a lost or forgotten root password for ESXi is simple: go to  and you'll find that "Reinstalling the ESXi host is the only supported way to reset a password on ESXi". If your host is still connected to vCenter, you may be able to use Host Profiles to reset the root password, or alternatively you can join ESXi in Active Directory via vCenter, and log in with a user in the "ESX Admins" AD group. If your host is no longer connected to vCenter, those options are closed. Can you avoid reinstallation? Fortunately, you can. You will need to reset and reboot your ESXi though. If you're ready for an unsupported deep dive into the bowels of ESXi, follow these steps: Create a bootable Linux USB-drive (or something else you can boot your server with). I used a CentOS 7 installation USB-drive that I could use to boot into rescue mode. Reset your ESXi and boot from the Linux medium. Ident

Lego Boost candy sorter

Our project for the 2018 Coderdojo Belgium Coolest Projects exhibition was a candy sorter, built in Lego and driven by Lego Boost. I took pictures and wrote building instructions while disassembling the robot afterwards, so you can now easily build a Skittle sorter in Lego yourself!

Updating VCSA on a private network

Updating the VCSA is easy when it has internet access or if you can mount the update iso. On a private network, VMware assumes you have a webserver that can serve up the updaterepo files. In this article, we'll look at how to proceed when VCSA is on a private network where internet access is blocked, and there's no webserver available. The VCSA and PSC contain their own webserver that can be used for an HTTP based update. This procedure was tested on PSC/VCSA 6.0. Follow these steps: First, download the update repo zip (e.g. for 6.0 U3A, the filename is )  Transfer the updaterepo zip to a PSC or VCSA that will be used as the server. You can use Putty's pscp.exe on Windows or scp on Mac/Linux, but you'd have to run "chsh -s /bin/bash root" in the CLI shell before using pscp.exe/scp if your PSC/VCSA is set up with the appliancesh.  chsh -s /bin/bash root "c:\program files (x86)\put

which vSphere version is my VM running on?

I did not yet update my older post when vSphere 6.7 was released. The list now complete up to vSphere 6.7. Your Linux runs on a VMware VM, but which on which ESXi version? You can see for yourself: run "dmidecode" and look at lines 10, 11 and 12. ESX 2.5 - BIOS Release Date: 04/21/2004 - Address 0xE8480 - Size 97152 bytes ESX 3.0 - BIOS Release Date: 04/17/2006 - Address 0xE7C70 - Size 99216 bytes ESX 3.5 - BIOS Release Date: 01/30/2008 - Address 0xE7910 - Size 100080 bytes ESX 4 - BIOS Release Date: 08/15/2008 - Address 0xEA6C0 - Size 88384 bytes ESX 4U1 - BIOS Release Date: 09/22/2009 - Address 0xEA550 - Size 88752 bytes ESX 4.1 - BIOS Release Date: 10/13/2009 - Address 0xEA2E0 - Size 89376 bytes ESXi 5 - BIOS Release Date: 01/07/2011 - Address 0xE72C0 - Size 101696 bytes ESXi 5.1 - BIOS Release Date: 06/22/2012 - Address: 0xEA0C0 - Size: 89920 bytes ESXi 5.5 - BIOS Release Date: 07/30/2013 - Address: 0xEA050 - Size: 90032 bytes ESXi 6 - BIOS Release Dat